Six years ago this week, I was in the middle of a three week European working vacation. The small Internet company I was working for had just been bought by a Fortune 500 company. We were going through many changes and a lot of my co-workers had already received their very lucrative severance packages. I was hoping for one but it didn’t look like it was going to happen.
My boss, who happens to be my good friend ML, was on his way out. He was supposed to stay on with the new company, but his new boss told him to sit down and shut up in their very first meeting. He went to HR the next day and was given his own very lucrative severance package. This happened in July, and he agreed to stay on to help with the transition through Labor Day. One of the last things he did for me, was arranging for me to go to London for a marketing and sales campaign. I had done the same thing in our NYC office and it had been a huge success and I’d gotten the company’s foot in the door at a bunch of major businesses. He thought it would be a good idea to do the same in Europe. Of course what he didn’t know was that the London sales team was just about to be let go as well and there would no longer be a European presence but that was neither here nor there.
So on August 17, 2001 I boarded a flight to London. As part of the trip, I had arranged to take an additional one week vacation and was following up London with Paris, and Barcelona. But I’ll get to that. I flew to London, and was luckily enough to get to sit in the front of the plane. It was my nicest pond flying experience. I got to London early the next morning and checked into my hotel. The place I was staying was a dump. And worst of all, there was a major heat wave going on and there was no air conditioning. Fuck! I immediately called ML to see if he could do anything about it. He told me he’d take care of it. On Sunday morning I was moved to a very nice hotel called the Hotel Mayfair Britannia. It was in a great part of town and best of all it was air conditioned.
The first day I was there I had been invited to a barbecue out in the country. I have no idea what part of London it was. The couple giving the party was friends with an ex-boyfriend of mine. I had met them several times while while Drew and I dated and they were very nice. So I found my way to the train station (not the tube) and took the train to their house. It was beautiful. It was a perfect little English cottage. And I spent the afternoon with them. In all there were about 30 or so gay boys who showed up for the occasion. One of their friends took a shine to me and followed me around like a puppy dog for the entire party. But I wasn’t really interested. I was having fun being the only American at the party and answering lots of questions about what it was like being gay in the U.S. Finally the party started to wrap up and I stuck around to help clean up. Eventually it was just the two hosts and me, sitting in the living room with our drinks in hand re-hashing the days events and talking. I was more than a little tipsy after an afternoon of drinking. I don’t even remember how it happened but the next thing I knew the three of us were making out on the sofa. One thing led to another and we ended up in the bed together. I spent the night snuggled between the two of them. I slept like a baby.
The next morning, we ate breakfast and then drove down to the little city area where they lived. We hung out at the gay bar for a while and then walked around the town. We kept running into people they knew and eventually ended up in a cemetery. Seems it’s cruisy and they wanted to show it to me. We sat on a stone wall and talked forever. They also gave me a list of all the gay places I should go in London. Which bars, etc. etc. Eventually they dropped me off at the train station and I headed back in to London. I made my way to my hotel checked out and went to my new hotel, showered and changed, and then headed out to explore the city. I walked around for hours and then eventually ended up in a bar called Bar Code.
For the most part I was just hanging out watching the boys. It’s interesting. I’d have hard time discussing it now, but English boys don’t cruise guys the same way Americans do. It’s an entirely different process. So I was standing there holding the wall up, when I noticed this very cute boy watching me from across the room. He would look at me, then look away. He was with a large group of people. He would engage with them and then stop to stare at me across the bar. If he’d been by himself I would have made a move but when they are with a large group I stay back. He kept staring. I kept staring. And as the evening progressed. More and more of his friends began to leave. Finally it was just him and one other person. I too was just beginning to leave when he approached me.
He held out his hand and introduced himself. And that is when I met the very beautiful Pablo.
To be continued…